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The Celebrity Apprentice has a boardrooom problem

The Celebrity Apprentice has a boardrooom problem
Eric Trump surveys Sig Hansen's disaster cruise. (Photo by Douglas Gorenstein/NBC)

During the last half hour of The Celebrity Apprentice, there was finally a dramatic boardroom fight, with Kenya and Vivica going at each other, passionately trying to take the other down in order. Vivica mocked Kenya’s resume narration; Kenya buttered up Trump so much he was glistening.

But then: Trump fired Kate Gosselin. “I really feel it’s your time,” he said. What does that mean, other than, I’m firing the least-interesting person, working off a list the producers gave me? Of course he had no choice, and by that I mean, had no choice other than to convince himself that his metal-ball-on-a- contact-plate decision constituted critical thinking. (There was never a better example of his oversimplified rationalization than Trump insisting/convincing himself that Sig Hansen should excel at a party-on-a-boat task because Sig captains a crab boat.)

Kate and even Geraldo were stunned because Trump’s choice was such a 180; the focus was nearly entirely on Kenya and Vivica’s fighting for most of the boardroom. “This noise gets in the way of work,” Kate said, and Trump seemed to agree, until he had no choice but to fire Kate and look to his kids to affirm him like they always do.

Tribal Council has become trivial council

The boardroom segment of the show used to be the highlight of each episode, which is why it kept being expanded. Even though contestants were faced with an ultimately arbitrary decision by Mr. Arbitrary himself, they fought for themselves. They had an opportunity to critique each other’s work and personalities in detail.

The celebrity edition has always pulled its punches a little, with Trump going out of his way to praise people after he criticized them. His repetitive and often inane questions don’t really get down to a detailed critique; they just ask people to point fingers. Despite that, no one’s really fighting, especially now that they can just get cash for their charity by asking.  There’s no suspense.

Not since Kevin Jonas and Geraldo Rivera faced off has anything interesting happened in the 15 to 30 minutes every episode spends there. Instead, it’s been a parade of people who’ve essentially quit: Gilbert Gottfried, Jamie Anderson, Terrell Owens, Shawn Johnson , Lorenzo Lamas, Sig Hansen. Of those people, Sig put up the biggest fight, and by that I mean he said he wanted to stay to make money for his charity, but then Trump gave his charity money and Sig gave up.

When there are arguments, they tend to not be ones that carry over to the actual decision; it’s more like petty name-calling. Kenya and Vivica’s back and forth stood out because it seemed like their behavior was being blamed for the loss, and one of them would go home, so they were fighting to stay.

By firing Kate, Trump may have kept the most interesting television around, but he also destroyed the any narrative tension. The boardroom segment just feels irrelevant, and is by far the least-interesting part of the show.

Still a lot of celebrity drama to love

Thankfully, there’s 30 or even 45 minutes before Trump shows up and ruins his own show. This week, that found the celebrities running a party cruise around Manhattan, and then creating displays for a Trump property. Captain Sig invited the Hooters girls on board his boat, because how could that go wrong.

Geraldo told us, “I was in charge of fun” and described that as “lubricating, in every sense, the experience.” He also said, “I’m half-lubed,” which might explain his melodramatic narration of New York’s history, as he described things such as “the Jews and the Italians and the Irish, coming here in their majestic legion.” Poetically, he said, “screw the terrorists; we’ve won”–a line so juicy the editors used it twice.

Meanwhile, Sig blew up at two model/extra/bartenders who showed up to work his party, who were first greeted by Geraldo. He shook their hand while his other hand was down the front of his half-on pants. Sig later told the camera that his guests had a good time and “if they didn’t write it down on their little cards, I’d like their address so I can go punch their teeth out.” Charming.

And let’s not forget Ian, whose self-importance is so astronomically great that, when he encounters lesser people, he often freezes with a curious look that seems to say, I cannot comprehend something as small and unimportant as you. In an interview, he said, in all seriousness, that if he won the task and raised money for his charity, “it’s just going to get me a seat closer to God.”

Eye-an might be delusional, but at least he’s passionate and fighting for something. Let’s hope he, and the rest of the celebrities, start doing that in the boardroom.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how itโ€™s made and what it means.

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